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Setting a company on a solid path is essential when you launch it. Twenty percent of businesses fail in the first two years, but you’re not out of the woods just because those first two years are up. Forty-five percent don’t last the first five years, and 65 percent fail during the first 10. Only 25 percent of businesses make it beyond 15 years.
As you grow your company, you must build sustainable momentum.
Here are a few ways smart founders can build a brighter future for their new companies.
1. Invest in a Project Management Tool
Plenty of project management tools are on the market today. Yet some companies still rely on spreadsheet after messy spreadsheet to keep track of their work.
With the right project management tool, you can better optimize your workflow. These tools allow you to set deadlines for specific targets, keep everyone’s work transparent with one another, and place all your resources in one easy-to-find place.
Instead of relying on a large spreadsheet and long email threads, your employees can use their project management tool to work together and complete their tasks promptly and effectively.
2. Implement an Invoice Processing Platform Early On
Paying monthly invoices may be a little time-consuming when launching a company. In addition, you may only have a few outside vendors you work with each month. So, you may not need to use an invoice processing platform.
The problem is that you, of course, want your company to grow. With that growth comes the use of more services requiring monthly payments. Suddenly, the invoice payment process takes up a lot more time.
As you start your business, you want to set your employees up for success. By implementing an invoice processing platform early on, you’re helping to set up your accounts payable (AP) team for success. You’ll reduce the risk of paying accidental double invoices, improve your invoice payment speed, and even lower processing costs. Although implementation can be challenging, you’ll find it worth the effort once you set up everything properly. You’ll reduce your AP team’s workload and create better-supported workers.
3. Maintain Healthy Email Practices
You’ve helped your AP team get on the path to success. Now it’s time to help your marketers.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach customers and clients and get sales. Fifty-nine percent of B2B marketers say email is their most effective revenue-generation channel. But email marketing is also one of the most challenging forms of marketing to master.
Every company has a sender reputation score provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). That score determines whether or not your email lands in your intended recipient’s spam folder or inbox. Unfortunately, once your sender reputation score drops, rebuilding is difficult.
So, what can you do to establish and maintain a high score? One of the most important ways is by keeping your bounce rate low. There are two forms of bounces: hard and soft. A soft bounce happens when there’s a temporary email delivery failure. For example, perhaps your intended recipient is on vacation, and their inbox is too full to receive new messages.
A hard bounce indicates a more significant problem. A hard bounce happens when there’s a permanent error, which can occur for several reasons. For example, the email address you’re attempting to reach may have a misspelling, or you have a work email address, but the intended recipient no longer works at that company. Implementing a tool that maintains your sender list can prevent you from sending emails to the wrong places, keeping your sender’s reputation in check.
4. Organize Your Sprint Planning More Effectively
Now, it’s time to help your product development team. As a new company, you need to ensure your product is ready to debut. But you should also understand that your product is never fully completed. There will always be opportunities for it to grow into something even more extraordinary. But you must provide your product development team with the tools and strategies to make that happen.
You can either set your product development team up for success or failure. Setting unrealistic expectations is one of the best ways to put them on the latter path. With better sprint planning, you can stop poor goal-setting in its tracks.
Sprints are at the heart of agile methodologies and have your team strive to complete a set amount of work quickly. Before you can begin a sprint, you should have a sprint planning meeting, which sets the goals and perimeters of the sprint. An effective sprint planning meeting will consider team capabilities, how much work your team completed in previous sprints, and other metrics to help set the sprint length and expectations.
As you need to timebox the sprint itself, you also should timebox the planning meeting. As a good rule of thumb, you should multiply the number of weeks of the sprint by two to get the number of hours you should spend on the meeting. For example, the planning meeting should fall within four hours if you have a two-week sprint. Setting a time limit on these meetings helps ensure you use all time effectively.
5. Understand Your Audience
One of the biggest mistakes new companies make is trying to build a product for everyone. It may sound obvious you want your product to be marketable to as many people as possible. But the more you try to attract everyone, the less you’ll target your biggest potential customers.
Instead of trying to reach everyone, develop buyer personas to target those most likely to want your product. Depending on your company, you may have as few as one persona or as many as 10. But no matter how many you have, you should have detailed accounts of your target audience. What’s their age? Their profession? Their income level? Are they married? Do they have kids?
You’ll unlock the best strategies to reach them by answering detailed questions about their lives. Marketing toward someone fresh out of college and starting their career likely looks different from marketing toward someone nearing retirement. In-depth buyer personas can help you create multiple forms of marketing to be sure you’re targeting everyone you need to reach.
Wrapping Up Your Momentum Plan
As a new founder, you need to ensure your company is in a position to build and maintain sustainable momentum. You must always look toward the future and the bigger picture of the goals you want to set for your business. Invest in tools and strategies that may not be necessary now, like an invoice processing platform, but will be essential in the future.
From better sprint planning to building buyer personas, you should consider what’s next for your company and provide your employees with what they need to reach those goals.
In time, you’ll move beyond the start-up phase and become a full-fledged enterprise.